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Psychophysiology. 2017 Aug;54(8):1110-1127. doi: 10.1111/psyp.12876. Epub 2017 Apr 19.

By our bootstraps: Comparing methods for measuring auditory 40 Hz steady-state neural activity.

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Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Center for Psychiatric Research, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
New Mexico Raymond G. Murphy VA Healthcare System, Psychiatry Research, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
University of California, San Diego, Department of Radiology, San Diego, California.
San Diego VA Healthcare System, Department of Radiology, San Diego, California.
University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Psychology and Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Los Angeles, California.


Although the 40 Hz auditory steady-state response (ASSR) is of clinical interest, the construct validity of EEG and MEG measures of 40 Hz ASSR cortical microcircuits is unclear. This study evaluated several MEG and EEG metrics by leveraging findings of (a) an association between the 40 Hz ASSR and age in the left but not right hemisphere, and (b) right- > left-hemisphere differences in the strength of the 40 Hz ASSR. The contention is that, if an analysis method does not demonstrate a left 40 Hz ASSR and age relationship or hemisphere differences, then the obtained measures likely have low validity. Fifty-three adults were presented 500 Hz stimuli modulated at 40 Hz while MEG and EEG were collected. ASSR activity was examined as a function of phase similarity (intertrial coherence) and percent change from baseline (total power). A variety of head models (spherical and realistic) and a variety of dipole source modeling strategies (dipole source localization and dipoles fixed to Heschl's gyri) were compared. Several sensor analysis strategies were also tested. EEG sensor measures failed to detect left 40 Hz ASSR and age associations or hemisphere differences. A comparison of MEG and EEG head-source models showed similarity in the 40 Hz ASSR measures and in estimating age and left 40 Hz ASSR associations, indicating good construct validity across models. Given a goal of measuring the 40 Hz ASSR cortical microcircuits, a source-modeling approach was shown to be superior in measuring this construct versus methods that rely on EEG sensor measures.


40 Hz auditory steady-state response; EEG; magnetoencephalography; superior temporal gyrus

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